The Right to Privacy

The Right to Privacy

The Right to Privacy is embodied in Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 while the 6th Principle of the DPA states that personal data must be processed in accordance with the individual's rights. Personal data is an image, document, or statement, or record in a filing system, from which a living individual may be identified from that data where, in addition to other factors, the processing of the data affects the individual’s privacy.


Before releasing personal information about an individual, for example in response to a Freedom Of Information Request, the following tests must be applied:


  • If the information is considered as sensitive personal data in DPA terms, then it must not be released without the explicit consent of the individual;
  • If the information is obviously private, then it must not be released without the explicit consent of the individual;
    If the disclosure would cause offence to another individual in similar circumstances, then the information is private and must not be released;
  • If the individual been been asked for, and declined, consent then the information must not be released;
  • If, on balance, the release of the information would likely to cause more harm than the benefits of releasing the information, then it must not be released;
  • If disclosure of the information is in the public interest, and taking into account the caveats above, then it may be released but you must be able to defend the decision to release.


See seperate entries in this A to Z Guide for advice on the Human Rights Act 1998, Personal Data, and Processing.